shelter volunteer in Moses Lake, Washington, e-mailed us about
an 8-week old kitten who had difficulty standing and walking.
He could move around, but flopped over a lot. The shelter’s
vet said the muscles in the kitten’s hind legs and pelvic
region had not developed properly. Could we take the kitten?
A few days later the little tyke arrived at the sanctuary.
We set him on the floor and watched him wobble across the
room. His new name came instantly: Wobbles.
He had already learned how to compensate for his lack of
motor skills: He set his tiny legs far apart for stability,
and held his little tail sticking straight up for better balance.
Even so, he could take only a few steps before toppling over.
Then he’d pick himself up and start all over again.
To us Wobbles seemed to have a neurological issue, not a
muscle problem. We took Wobbles to our vets in Helena for
an exam. Sure enough, our specialist diagnosed his condition
as a neurological disorder known as cerebellar hypoplasia.
Wobbles’ mother most likely had the feline panleukopenia
virus when she was pregnant, and this interferes with the
development of the cerebellum in the kittens in the womb.
So the result is that the part of the brain that deals with
balance and motor skills never fully developed.
He may not be steady on his feet, but Wobbles sure can get
around fine. He is energetic, playful, and comes with an “auto
purr” function: pick him up and he starts purring. Wobbles
loves to reach out and grab our legs as we walk by. And one
of h is favorite things is to do is sit under Steve’s
desk while he works and chew on his shoes.
Wobbles’ best friends are Birdie, our young Lab with
muscular dystrophy, and Widget, our blind Beagle/Dachshund
mix. After an exhausting round of play, dogs and kitten will
fall asleep together. In the photo above you can see Wobbles
and Birdie taking an afternoon siesta with each other.
We’ll never be able to call Wobbles a real “stand-up
guy,” but this little youngster should enjoy a long
… if unbalanced … life here at the ranch.